Special Olympics New York athletes participate in more than 200 competitions at local, regional, super regional, state, national and world levels. Competitions provide athletes with meaningful opportunities to test their sports skills and measure progress. They also provide an environment in which athletes are challenged and their achievements celebrated.Individuals with profound disabilities may participate in the Special Olympics Motor Activities Training Program (MATP), which emphasizes training and participation rather than competition.

Special Olympics Sports Rules govern all Special Olympics competitions and are the result of recommendations and the practical experience of thousands of coaches, volunteers, Special Olympics athletes and their families. The rules have been developed to provide each athlete a reasonable chance to win.

Athletes compete against those of similar age and ability level, in a process known as divisioning. The divisioning process offers fair competition to athletes at all levels.

In order to advance to higher levels of competition, an athlete must train for a minimum of eight weeks in an organized training program in the sport or sports in which he or she is entered to compete. In addition, an athlete must have placed first, second or third at a lower level of competition in the same sport. Quotas determine how many athletes may advance to the next level of competition.

If the number of eligible athletes exceeds the quota, athletes or teams to advance will be selected as follows:

First priority: Athletes will have placed first in at least the event at the next lower level of competition. If this number exceeds the quota, athletes will be chosen by random selection among all division winners.

Second priority:
If there are not enough first-place finishers from all divisions of the event, the remaining quota will be filled by a random draw of second-place finishers from all divisions of the event.

A team which has no competition at a specific level will be declared the winner. The team will not receive a place award, but will be eligible to advance to the next higher level of competition. An athlete will not be barred from future competition because of participation in prior competition unless that athlete failed to meet some other eligibility criterion. You may learn more about the criteria for advancement in the Special Olympics General Rules.